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Recap: Canes Close Out Preseason with Win

Hurricanes top Capitals 3-1 in preseason finale

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

The Carolina Hurricanes punctuated their seven-game preseason schedule with a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals.

It was an all-defenseman scoring affair, with Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin and Trevor van Riemsdyk tallying goals for the Canes, who finished with a 5-2 record in the exhibition season.

Here are five takeaways from tonight's game.

One

Analyzing this game as a dress rehearsal for the Hurricanes, I'd say the team is ready for Opening Night. It wasn't a perfect game - you'd be hard-pressed to find one of those on any night in any sport - and it might not have even been the team's most complete game of the preseason - the Canes were immensely relentless in Edmonton - but they got a lead in the first period, held onto it and closed out the game strong in the third period.

"I thought it was pretty good. We did some good things out there," van Riemsdyk said. "As the preseason has gone on, I think we've gotten better and better. It's always nice to end on a winning note. When you go into the third with a lead, you want to make sure you protect it especially at home."

Video: Trevor van Riemsdyk: "We've gotten better"

"There were some good things. It was a little bit sloppy both ways at times," head coach Bill Peters said. "When it mattered, we dug in and didn't give up much in the third period to close the game out the way you're supposed to close the game out when you enter the third period with a lead."

Two

The third period began with the Hurricanes holding a 2-1 lead and a 21-14 edge in shots. In the final 20 minutes of regulation, the Canes not only stretched their advantage to two goals but also limited the Capitals to just five shots on goal.

"We just want to be using our skating ability. I think everyone out there can skate really well. I think if we use that to take away time and space, it makes it a lot more difficult on their forwards to make plays and get pucks to the net."

Three

Because the Canes limited the Caps so much offensively - they had just 19 shots on goal all night - Scott Darling didn't have much work to do.

"They played great tonight," Darling said of the team in front of him. "It's a change getting used to this tight defensive structure, not a lot of shots."

Video: Scott Darling: "Felt more comfortable"

Darling made two starts in the preseason and amassed 37 saves on 40 shots. Peters didn't outwardly commit to Darling as the team's Opening Night starter, but he figures to be between the pipes on Oct. 7.

"It was great. It was a lot of fun. I was looking forward to all of this," Darling said. "I was super excited to get in my first game with the Canes in Edmonton. I was jittery, and I felt more comfortable tonight."

Four

When the Canes' defensemen weren't busy shutting down the Caps' offense at one end, they were scoring goals at the opposite end of the ice.

Faulk's first-period tally was a seeing-eye wrist shot that worked its way through a Brock McGinn-sized screen and beat Philipp Grubauer.

Video: WSH@CAR: Faulk opens scoring with floating wrist shot

"[McGinn] was good tonight. That line was real good, and he was a part of it being physical. Our angle on the bench in the first period, the goalie didn't see anything," Peters said. "Ginner was in a really good spot, and it was probably a double-screen with their D-man. Faulker was smart enough just to get it to the net. That's how we have to play. We have to be harder at both nets this year."

Hanifin's goal in the second period put the Canes back on top after Matt Niskanen briefly evened the score at one. Hanifin crept in from the point on the power play, accepted a nice dish from Jordan Staal and finished on his own rebound.

Video: WSH@CAR: Hanifin finishes his own rebound

In the third period, a seemingly innocent shot off the stick of van Riemsdyk, who was stationed along the far wall, found a hole in the upper corner of the cage.

"That was just pretty fortunate. I was just throwing it toward the net," he said with a smile. "Sometimes you get a lucky break."

Five

And that's a wrap! The Canes finished with five out of seven wins in the preseason, an outcome that won't necessarily translate to the regular season, but good habits breed good results - and the Canes established some good habits in these last two weeks.

"It's important, these days off. You've got to use them in the right way," van Riemsdyk said. "There's always ways to improve yourself … and get better. We'll be, I'm sure, having a bunch of really good practices here coming up. You want to make sure you get your rest and come into that first game raring to go."

"We know what we have to improve on, and we have the week to do that," Peters said. "I like our depth at all three positions. We've got a good team."

Up Next

The Hurricanes open the 2017-18 regular season on Saturday, Oct. 7 against Eric Staal, Matt Cullen and the Minnesota Wild.

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